[env-trinity] Michael Doyle McClatchy Papers 2 26 10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Fri Feb 26 11:24:30 PST 2010
Water package for parched San Joaquin Valley set to be unveiled
<mailto:mdoyle at mcclatchydc.com> mdoyle at mcclatchydc.com
Published Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is expected today to unveil an
ambitious-sounding package of irrigation deliveries, water transfers, farm
loan guarantees and other programs targeting the parched San Joaquin Valley.
Crafted amid intense political pressure, the package is supposed to
alleviate farmers' distress while still protecting fish. Some key California
lawmakers said late Thursday they were pleased by the effort, though others
still want more detail.
"I'm heartened by this," Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday
The comprehensive package is expected to accompany what is normally a
routine water allocation announcement, where the federal Bureau of
Reclamation declares how much water farms and cities can expect. Last
February, the bureau announced farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin
Delta would receive nothing. That later increased to 10 percent of historic
This year, lawmakers have been demanding that farmers receive up to 40
percent of their historic deliveries. If necessary, Feinstein said she would
offer an amendment rewriting environmental decisions in order to deliver the
Feinstein said Thursday there now appears to be "a good likelihood" that the
administration actions being announced today will go a long way toward her
goal. The precise details were being tightly held until today.
"I'm very hopeful," added Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.
Feinstein and Boxer spoke as they departed an extraordinary closed-door
session that amounted to a high-level California water summit. Three Cabinet
secretaries, both of the state's senators and more than a half-dozen House
members convened on Capitol Hill for more than 90 minutes to hash out the
state's immediate water woes.
In part, the session held in the underground Capitol Visitors Center
permitted Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke,
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Council on Environmental Quality chief
Nancy Sutley to sketch out their plans for easing California's pain.
In part, the session allowed members to keep the pressure on. Democratic
Rep. Jim Costa of Fresno reminded the administration officials of the 40
percent unemployment that's brutalized some San Joaquin Valley towns, while
Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, cited the predator fish and other
non-irrigation causes for the decline of some endangered Delta species.
Farmers have been leery, with Westlands Water District General Manager Tom
Birmingham predicting Wednesday that the initial water allocation will again
be zero, just like last year. One possibility is that the Bureau of
Reclamation's initial allocation, while low, will be accompanied by
expectations that the other actions being taken will bring total water
deliveries up toward the 40 percent mark.
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land/fax (call first to fax)
415 519 4810 mobile
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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